Howard Allan Stern (born January 12, 1954) is an American radio personality, television host, author, actor, and photographer best known for his radio show, which was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2005. He gained wide recognition in the 1990s where he was labeled a "shock jock" for his outspoken and sometimes controversial style. Stern has been exclusive to Sirius XM Radio, a subscription-based satellite radio service, since 2006. The son of a former recording and radio engineer, Stern wished to pursue a career in radio at the age of five. While at Boston University he worked at the campus station WTBU before a brief stint at WNTN in Newton, Massachusetts.
He developed his on-air personality when he landed positions at WRNW in Briarcliff Manor, WCCC in Hartford and WWWW in Detroit. In 1981, he was paired with his current newscaster and co-host Robin Quivers at WWDC in Washington, D.C. Stern then moved to WNBC in New York City in 1982 to host afternoons until his firing in 1985. He re-emerged on WXRK that year, and became one of the most popular radio personalities during his 20-year tenure at the station. Stern's show is the most-fined radio program, after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued fines to station licensees for allegedly indecent material that totaled $2.5 million. Stern has won Billboard's Nationally Syndicated Air Personality of the Year award eight times, and is one of the highest-paid figures in radio.
Stern describes himself as the King of All Media for his ventures outside radio. Since 1987, he has hosted numerous late night television shows, pay-per-view events and home video releases. He embarked on a five-month political campaign for Governor of New York in 1994. His two books, Private Parts (1993) and Miss America (1995), spent 20 and 16 weeks respectively on The New York Times Best Seller list. The former was adapted into Private Parts (1997), a biographical comedy film that starred Stern and his radio show staff that earned $41.2 million in domestic revenue. Stern performs on its soundtrack which topped the Billboard 200 chart.
Early life and education
Stern graduated from the College of Public Communications at Boston University in 1976. Stern was born on January 12, 1954 into a Jewish family who lived in Jackson Heights, Queens in New York City. His parents Ben and Ray (n e Schiffman) are children of Austro-Hungarian immigrants, and his sister Ellen is four years older than he. The family moved to the hamlet of Roosevelt on Long Island in 1955, where Stern developed an interest in radio at five years of age. While Ray was a homemaker and later an inhalation therapist, Ben was a co-owner of Aura Recording, Inc., a recording studio in Manhattan where cartoons and commercials were produced. When he made occasional visits with his father, Stern witnessed actors Wally Cox, Don Adams and Larry Storch voice his favorite cartoon characters, which influenced him to later talk on the air rather than play records. Ben was also an engineer at WHOM, a radio station in Manhattan. On completion of sixth grade, Stern left Washington-Rose Elementary School for Roosevelt Junior-Senior High School. In June 1969, the family moved to nearby Rockville Centre and Stern transferred to South Side High School.
Stern spent the first two of four years at Boston University in the College of Basic Studies. In 1973, he started to work at WTBU, the campus radio station where he spun records, read the news, and hosted interviews. He also hosted a comedy program with three fellow students called The King Schmaltz Bagel Hour. Stern gained admission to the School of Public Communications in 1974 and earned a diploma in July 1975 at the Radio Engineering Institute of Electronics in Fredericksburg, Virginia which allowed him to apply for a first class FCC radio-telephone license. With the license, Stern made his professional debut at WNTN in Newton, Massachusetts, performing airshift, newscasting and production duties between August and December 1975. He graduated magna cum laude from Boston University in May 1976 with a degree in Communications and now funds a scholarship at the university.
Early professional radio career (1976 1981)
After his graduation in 1976, Stern declined an offer to work evenings at WRNW, a progressive rock station in Briarcliff Manor, Westchester County, New York. He was unsure of his talent, and questioned his future in the professional industry. Stern took creative and media planning roles at Benton & Bowles, a New York advertising agency, followed by a job in selling radio time to advertisers. He realized the mistake of declining on-air work and contacted WRNW a second time where he agreed to work covering shifts over the Christmas holiday period. Stern was hired full time in 1977 and worked a four-hour midday shift, six days per week a $96 weekly salary. He subsequently worked as the station's production and program director for an increased salary of $250.
In 1979, Stern spotted an advertisement for a "wild, fun morning guy" at rock station WCCC in Hartford, Connecticut. He submitted a more outrageous audition tape with Robert Klein and Cheech and Chong records mixed with flatulence routines and one-liners. Stern was hired with no change in salary with a more intense schedule. After four hours on the air he voiced and produced commercials for another four. On Saturdays, following a six-hour show, he did production work for the next three. As the station's public affairs director he also hosted a Sunday morning talk show which he favoured. In the summer of the 1979 energy crisis, Stern held a two-day boycott of Shell Oil Company which attracted media attention. Stern left WCCC a year later after he was declined a pay increase. Fred Norris, the overnight disc jockey, has been Stern's producer and writer since 1981.
Management at rock outlet WWWW in Detroit, Michigan praised Stern's audition tape in their search for a new morning man. Stern was hired for the job which he started on April 21, 1980. He learned to become more open on the air and "decided to cut down the barriers...strip down all the ego...and be totally honest", he later told Newsday. His efforts earned him a Billboard award for "Album-Oriented Rock Personality of the Year For a Major Market" and the Drake-Chenault "Top Five Talent Search" title. The station however, ran into problems after Stern's quarterly Arbitron ratings had decreased while it struggled to compete with its stronger rock competitors. In January 1981, WWWW switched to a country music format much to Stern's dislike, who left the station soon after. He received offers to work at WXRT in Chicago and CHUM in Toronto, but did not take them.
Washington and WNBC New York (1981 1985)
Stern moved to Washington, D.C. to host mornings at rock station WWDC on March 2, 1981. He wanted to develop his show further, and looked for a co-worker with a sense of humor to riff with on news and current events. The station paired Stern with Robin Quivers, a newscaster and consumer affairs reporter from WFBR in Baltimore. Though he felt restricted and controlled by management who enforced a strict format, Stern had the second highest rated morning radio program in January 1982. Impressed with his ratings success, Stern was approached by NBC with an offer to work afternoons at WNBC in New York City. After he signed a five-year contract worth $1 million in March, Stern's relationship with WWDC management worsened, and his contract with the station was terminated on June 25. He had more than tripled the station's morning ratings during his stay. In its July issue The Washingtonian named Stern the area's best disc jockey. Stern released 50 Ways to Rank Your Mother, a comedy album of his radio bits. The record was re-released as Unclean Beaver in November 1994.
On April 2, 1982, a news report by Douglas Kiker on raunch radio featuring Stern aired on NBC Magazine. The piece stimulated discussion among NBC management to withdraw Stern's contract. When he began his afternoon program in September, management closely monitored Stern, telling him to avoid talk of a sexual and religious nature. In his first month, Stern was suspended for several days for "Virgin Mary Kong", a segment featuring a video game where a group of men pursued the Virgin Mary around a singles bar in Jerusalem. An attorney was hired to man a "dump button", and cut Stern off the microphone should potentially offensive areas be discussed. This became the task of program director Kevin Metheny, who Stern nicknamed "Pig Virus". On May 21, 1984, Stern made his first appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, launching him into the national spotlight. A year later he claimed the highest ratings at WNBC in four years with a 5.7% market share.
On September 30, 1985, Stern and Quivers were fired for what management termed "conceptual differences" regarding the show. "Over the course of time, we made a very conscious effort to make Stern aware that certain elements of the program should be changed...I don't think it's appropriate to say what those specifics were", said program director John Hayes, who Stern nicknamed "The Incubus". In 1992, Stern believed Thornton Bradshaw, chairman of WNBC's owner RCA, heard his "Bestiality Dial-a-Date" segment and ordered his firing. Stern and Quivers kept in touch with their audience throughout October and November where they toured club venues with a stage show.
K-Rock, early television endeavors and Fartman (1985 1992)
Stern signed a contract with Infinity Broadcasting worth around $500,000 and returned to afternoons on its New York rock station WXRK on November 18, 1985. The show moved to mornings on February 18, 1986 and entered national syndication on August 18 when WYSP in Philadelphia first simulcast the program. In October 1992, Stern became the first to have the number one morning radio show in New York and Los Angeles simultaneously. In the New York market The Howard Stern Show was the highest-rated morning program for seven consecutive years between 1994 and 2001. In 1994, Billboard magazine added the "Nationally Syndicated Air Personality of the Year" category to its annual radio awards based on entertainment value, creativity and ratings success. Stern was awarded the title from 1994 to 2002.
In May 1987, Stern recorded five television pilots for Fox when the network planned to replace The Late Show hosted by Joan Rivers. The series was never picked up; one executive having described the show as "poorly produced", "in poor taste" and "boring". Stern hosted his first pay-per-view event on February 27, 1988 named Howard Stern's Neglige and Underpants Party. Over 60,000 homes purchased the two-hour special that grossed $1.2 million. On September 7, 1989, over 16,000 fans packed out Nassau Coliseum for Howard Stern's U.S. Open Sores, a live event that featured a tennis match between Stern and his radio show producer, Gary Dell'Abate. Both events were released for home video. From 1990 to 1992, Stern was the host of The Howard Stern Show, a Saturday night program on WWOR-TV. The series ran for 69 episodes to 65 markets nationwide. In February 1991, Stern released Crucified by the FCC, a collection of censored radio segments following the first fine issued to Infinity by the FCC over alleged indecency. He released a third video tape, Butt Bongo Fiesta, in October 1992 that sold 260,000 copies for a gross of over $10 million. He returned to Saturday night television that November with The Howard Stern "Interview", a one-on-one celebrity interview series on E!.
Stern appeared at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards as Fartman, a fictional superhero that first appeared in the National Lampoon humor magazine series. According to the trademark he filed for the character that October, he first used Fartman in July 1981. Stern rejected multiple scripts for a proposed summer 1993 release of The Adventures of Fartman until a verbal agreement was reached with New Line Cinema. Screenwriter J. F. Lawton had prepared a script before relations soured over the film's rating, content and merchandising rights and the project was abandoned.
Private Parts, E! show and run for Governor (1993 1994)
In 1993, Stern signed a $1 million advance contract with Simon & Schuster to publish his first book. Co-authored with Larry Sloman and edited by Judith Regan, the release of Private Parts on October 7 saw its first printing of 225,000 copies being sold within hours of going on sale. It became the fastest-selling title in the history of Schuster after five days. In its eighth printing two weeks later, over one million copies had been distributed. Stern embarked on a book signing tour that attracted an estimated 10,000 fans at a Barnes & Noble store on Fifth Avenue in New York. In its first run, Private Parts spent 20 weeks on The New York Times Best-Seller list. Stern has written forewords for Steal This Dream (1998), a biography of Abbie Hoffman, Disgustingly Dirty Joke Book (1998) by Jackie Martling, Too Fat to Fish (2008) by Artie Lange, and Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption from an Irish Mailbox (2010) by Greg Fitzsimmons.
Stern hosted his second pay-per-view event, The Miss Howard Stern New Year's Eve Pageant, on December 31, 1993. It broke the subscriber record for a non-sports event previously held by a New Kids on the Block concert in 1990. Around 400,000 households purchased the event that grossed an estimated $16 million. Stern released the program on VHS in early 1994 as Howard Stern's New Year's Rotten Eve 1994. Between his book royalties and pay-per-view profits, Stern's earnings in the latter months of 1993 totalled around $7.5 million. In its 20th anniversary issue in 1993, Radio & Records named Stern the most influential air personality of the past two decades.
On March 21, 1994, Stern announced his candidacy for Governor of New York under the Libertarian Party ticket, challenging Mario Cuomo for re-election. He planned to reinstate the death penalty, stagger highway tolls to improve traffic flow, and limit road work to night hours. At the party's nomination convention in Albany on April 23, Stern won the required two-thirds majority on the first ballot, receiving 287 of the 381 votes cast (75.33%). James Ostrowski finished second with 34 votes (8.92%). To place his name on the November ballot, Stern was obliged to state his home address and to complete a financial disclosure form under the Ethics in Government Act of 1987. After denying to disclose his financial information, Stern was denied an injunction on August 2. He withdrew his candidacy two days later. Cuomo was defeated in the gubernatorial election on November 8 by George Pataki, who Stern backed. Pataki signed "The Howard Stern Bill" that limited construction on state roads to night hours in New York and Long Island, in 1995.
In June 1994, robotic cameras were installed at WXRK studios to film The Howard Stern Show for a condensed half-hour show on E!. Howard Stern ran for 11 years until the last taped episode aired on July 8, 2005. In conjunction with his move to satellite radio, Stern launched Howard Stern on Demand, a subscription video-on-demand service, on November 18. The service was relaunched as Howard TV on March 16, 2006.
Miss America and Private Parts film (1995 1997)
On April 3, 1995, three days after the shooting of singer Selena, Stern's comments regarding her death and Mexican Americans caused an uproar in the Hispanic community. He criticized her music and gunfire sound effects were played over her songs. "This music does absolutely nothing for me. Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul...Spanish people have the worst taste in music. They have no depth". On April 6, Stern responded with a statement in Spanish, stressing his comments were made in satire and not intended to hurt those who loved her. A day later, Justice of the Peace Eloy Cano of Harlingen, Texas issued an arrest warrant on Stern for disorderly conduct.
In 1995, Stern signed a deal with ReganBooks worth $3 million to write his second book, Miss America. He wrote about his cybersex experiences on the Prodigy service, a private meeting with Michael Jackson, and his suffering with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Released on November 7, the book sold 33,000 copies at Barnes & Noble stores on the same day which set a new one-day record. Publishers Weekly reported over 1.39 million copies were sold by the year's end and ranked it the third best-selling book of 1995. Miss America spent a total of 16 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list.
Production for a film adaptation of Private Parts began in May 1996 with all shooting complete in four months. Its premiere was held at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden on February 27, 1997, where Stern performed "The Great American Nightmare" with Rob Zombie. Making its general release on March 7, Private Parts topped the box office sales in its opening weekend with a gross of $14.6 million, and went on to earn a total of $41.2 million in domestic gross revenue. The film holds a "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a website that aggregates film reviews. 79% of critics gave Private Parts a positive review based on a sample of 48 reviews, with an average score of 6.6 out of 10. For his performance, Stern won a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for "Favorite Male Newcomer" and was nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy)" and a Golden Raspberry Award for "Worst New Star". The soundtrack to Private Parts sold 178,000 copies in its first week of release, topping the Billboard 200 chart.
Stern filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against Ministry of Film Inc. in October 1997, claiming it recruited him for a film titled Jane starring Melanie Griffith while knowing it had insufficient funds. Stern, who was unpaid when production ceased, accused the studio of breach of contract, fraud and negligent representation. A settlement was reached in 1999 with Stern receiving $50,000.
Return to Saturday night television and productions (1998 2004)
In August 1998, Stern returned to Saturday night television with The Howard Stern Radio Show. Broadcast across the country on CBS affiliates, it featured radio show highlights along with material unseen in his nightly E! show. The show competed for ratings with comedy shows Saturday Night Live on NBC and MADtv on Fox. Concerned with its risqu content, affiliates began to leave the show after two episodes. Making its launch on 79 stations on August 22, 1998, this number was reduced to 55 by June 1999. A total of 84 episodes were broadcast. The final re-run aired on November 17, 2001, to around 30 markets.
In 1994, Stern launched the Howard Stern Production Company for original and joint production and development ventures. He intended to make a film adaptation of Brother Sam, the biography of the late comedian Sam Kinison. In September 1999, UPN announced the production of Doomsday, an animated science-fiction comedy series executively produced by Stern. Originally set for a 2000 release, Stern starred as Orinthal, a family dog. The project was eventually abandoned. From 2000 to 2002, Stern was the executive producer of Son of the Beach, a sitcom which ran for three seasons on FX. In late 2001, Howard Stern Productions was reportedly developing a new sitcom titled Kane. The pilot episode was never filmed. In 2002, Stern acquired the rights to comedy films Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979) and Porky's (1982). He filed a $100 million lawsuit in March 2003 against ABC and the producers of Are You Hot?, claiming the series was based on his radio segment called "The Evaluators". A settlement was reached on August 7.
Stern announced in early 2004 of talks with ABC to host a prime time interview special, which never materialized. In August 2004, cable channel Spike picked up 13 episodes of Howard Stern: The High School Years, a second animated series Stern was to executive produce. On November 14, 2005, Stern announced the completion of episode scripts and 30 seconds of test animations. Stern eventually gave the project up. In 2007, he explained the episodes could have been produced "on the cheap" at $300,000 each, though the quality he demanded would have cost over $1 million. Actor Michael Cera was cast as the lead voice.
Satellite radio and America's Got Talent (2004 present)
Following Stern's move to Sirius, he assembled the Howard 100 News team. On October 6, 2004, Stern announced the signing of a five-year contract with Sirius Satellite Radio, a medium free from FCC regulations, that started in January 2006. His decision to leave terrestrial radio occurred in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show in February that caused a crackdown on perceived indecency in broadcasting. The incident prompted tighter control over content by station owners and managers to which Stern felt "dead inside" creatively. Stern hosted his final broadcast on terrestrial airwaves on December 16, 2005. During his 20 years at WXRK his show had syndicated in 60 markets across the United States and Canada and gained a peak audience of 20 million listeners.
With an annual budget of $100 million for all production, staff and programming costs, Stern launched two channels on Sirius in 2005 named Howard 100 and Howard 101. He assembled the Howard 100 News team that covered stories about his show and those associated with it, and a new dedicated studio was constructed at Sirius' headquarters in New York. On January 9, 2006, the day of his first broadcast, Stern and his agent received 34.3 million shares of stock from the company worth $218 million for exceeding subscriber targets set in 2004. A second stock incentive was paid in 2007, with Stern receiving 22 million shares worth $82.9 million.
On February 28, 2006, CBS Radio (formerly Infinity Broadcasting) filed a lawsuit against Stern, his agent and Sirius. The suit claimed Stern had misused CBS broadcast time to promote Sirius for unjust enrichment during the last 14 months of his terrestrial radio contract. In a press conference held hours before the suit was filed, Stern said it was nothing more than a "personal vendetta" against him by CBS president Leslie Moonves. A settlement was reached on May 25, with Sirius paying $2 million to CBS for control of Stern's 20-year broadcast archives. In the same month, Time magazine included Stern in its Time 100 list. He also ranked seventh in Forbes' Celebrity 100 list in June 2006, and reappeared in 2011 at number 26.
Stern signed a new contract with Sirius to continue his show for five more years in December 2010. Following the agreement, Stern and his agent filed a lawsuit against Sirius on March 22, 2011, for allegedly failing to pay stock bonuses promised to them from the past four years while helping the company exceed subscriber growth targets. Sirius said it was "surprised and disappointed" by the suit. In May, Stern announced that he would be broadcasting on a reduced schedule, alternating between three-day and four-day working weeks. On December 15, 2011, Stern announced that he will replace Piers Morgan as a judge for the seventh season of America's Got Talent. Filming will take place in New York and will start in February 2012.
From 1990 to 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined owners of radio stations that carried The Howard Stern Show a total of $2.5 million for indecent programming.
Stern and Beth Ostrosky in 2011 Stern married his first wife, Alison (n e Berns), on June 4, 1978 at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Massachusetts. They have three daughters: Emily Beth (b. 1983), Debra Jennifer (b. 1986) and Ashley Jade (b. 1993). On October 22, 1999, Stern announced their decision to separate. The marriage ended in 2001 with an amicable divorce and settlement. In 2000, Stern began to date model Beth Ostrosky, co-host of Casino Cinema from 2004 to 2007. She also frequently appeared in the American edition of FHM. On February 14, 2007 Stern announced their engagement. They married on October 3, 2008, at Le Cirque restaurant in New York City.
While attending Boston University, Stern developed an interest in Transcendental Meditation, which he practices to this day. He credits it with aiding him in quitting smoking and achieving his goals in radio. Stern interviewed the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the technique, twice. Stern also plays on the Internet Chess Club, and has taken lessons from chess master Dan Heisman, although he has recently claimed to have quit playing. Howard's latest passion is photography, where he does private shoots for friends and secured his first paid 'gig' shooting a layout for Hamptons magazine in July 2011. Stern has also shot photographs for WHIRL magazine and the North Shore Animal League.
||Ben Ben Wah - T.V. Commentator
||Blockbuster Entertainment Award for "Favourite Male Newcomer" (1998)
Nominated Golden Raspberry Award for "Worst New Star" (1998)
Nominated Golden Satellite Award for "Best Male Actor Performance in a Comedy or Musical" (1998)
Home video releases
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